Although the doors to Encinitas City Hall were closed Wednesday night, community members still gathered for a council meeting.
Roughly 40 people attended a mock city council meeting to address five empty chairs outside City Hall, which represented the absent council members. One of the attendees pretended to be Mayor Jerome Stocks and sat in a chair with his name on it.
Several Encinitas residents organized the event in protest of the canceled council meeting.
“We count on being able to come and be heard,” said Susan Turney, one of the mock council meeting organizers. “This is kind of pulling the rug out from under us.”
A notice posted outside City Hall stated that the meeting was canceled “due to lack of agenda items.” Many of the 12 mock council meeting speakers argued that the meeting was canceled so council members could avoid further backlash for posting campaign signs early.
The controversy began after a video shot by an Encinitas resident showed Stocks and Councilman Mark Muir posting their campaign signs before they legally should have. According to the city’s municipal code, campaign signs “may be displayed 30 days prior to the election.” Their alleged violation of this ordinance has been a heated topic at the recent city council candidate forum and Oct. 10 council meeting.
Many of the mock council meeting attendees believed Wednesday’s meeting was canceled so council members could avoid additional criticism, especially because local students, parents and teachers were expected to be in attendance to receive awards in recognition of Red Ribbon Week. Because the meeting was canceled, however, Stocks attended local schools to personally deliver the awards.
“It appears you canceled the meeting to avoid more negative attention brought on yourself in front of the students, their parents, the teachers and the community,” said one speaker to the mock mayor. “Is that why you canceled this council meeting?”
Another speaker said she was disappointed the meeting was canceled because it's almost Election Day.
“This makes absolutely no sense,” she said. “It’s quite concerning because there are so many issues needing immediate attention.”
Joe Corder, who shot the footage of Stocks and Muir posting the campaign signs declared, “We are important,” prompting cheers from the crowd.
“I’m still here,” Corder said. “I’ll be here all the way through Nov. 6.”